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Nurses Ask Here-and-Now Research Question

November 18, 2013
Research is a priority for St. Luke’s Center for Nursing Excellence. “When nurses are initiating research, it puts them at the top of their practice,” observes the Center’s director of nursing research, Laura Tivis, PhD.

Nurses ask good research questions, she continues. “They are there every day. Their research is very applicable to the needs of their patients.”

Tivis, a published researcher herself, oversees the Center’s Nursing Research and Evidence-based Practice Fellowship program. This year’s nurse fellows have been conducting five research studies and three evidence-based practice projects on topics ranging from pediatric delirium to aromatherapy, palliative care, oral nutritional supplements, and attitudes toward acupuncture.

The fellowship program sets aside eight hours per pay period for nurse participants to attend educational sessions, work with mentors, and conduct a research or evidence-based practice (EBP) project during the year. The process advances nurses as scientists, Tivis points out. The studies and projects benefit St. Luke’s patients and the community by advancing knowledge.

She points to an EBP project in the Newborn Intensive Care unit last year. In that project, Joan Hecker, Heather Vinson, and Nickole Oneida reviewed the medical literature and other sources of evidence for information about the use of umbilical cord blood as an alternative source of blood samples from newborn infants. They found that the evidence supported the practice, wrote a protocol, and trained other nurses to use the technique.

Thanks to their work, tiny newborns experience fewer direct blood draws at St. Luke’s. The project also won a first-place award in the poster competition at St. Luke’s Research Symposium in February 2013. 

“We have a strong program that others want to emulate,” Tivis says. She and 2012 Nursing Research Fellows Stacy Tucker and Erica Yager joined Boise State University nursing faculty to offer a presentation about the program at the Western Institute of Nursing conference in California in April.

The fellowship program has helped nurture an increase in investigator-initiated nursing research at St. Luke’s. Tivis’ goal is for nursing research and evidence-based-practice projects to be the norm throughout the health system. She also hopes to increase the number of nurses who publish their results, so that they can be shared with the wider medical community.

To that end, she and Center for Nursing Excellence director Diana Meyer are now planning a writing workshop to help nurse researchers prepare manuscripts for publication.